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Anticoagulants: A medication series update

CPD Hours



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Critical care and emergency nursing


Anticoagulant medicines are used widely in clinical practice for both prophylaxis and acute treatment of thrombosis. They act through targeting a number of different proteins that either reduce or prevent clot formation.

They are high risk medicines that have a narrow therapeutic index and over or under anticoagulation can result in significant adverse patient outcomes.[1]

The safe and effective use of any anticoagulant medicine requires careful patient selection and vigilant clinical monitoring to minimise the risk of thrombosis as well as balance the risk of adverse bleeding.[2]

This module will outline how you can ensure the safe use of anticoagulant medicines at every transition of patient care.[2]

This module relates to the following Australian National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards:

  • Standard Four: Medication Safety
  • Standard Six: Communicating for Safety

Learning Objective

At the end of this module participants will be able to:

  • Recognise the anticoagulant medicines available in Australia by generic and trade name.
  • Understand the function of anticoagulant medicines in clot formation.
  • Perform appropriate monitoring for patients based on evaluation of their individual situation.
  • Identify and manage risks associated with anticoagulation therapy.
  • Understand the importance of clinical handover regarding anticoagulants whenever there is a transfer or change in care to maximise patient safety.

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